There have been a few, profound, life-affirming moments in my adult life in which my soul was ignited by a few simple words of observation from someone I respect. In these instances, the words they spoke rang so true to my heart... they connected so intensely with my truth that I felt like I'd been waiting to uncover them my entire life.
For the sake of this introduction, I'll just share the most recent. A close friend and mentor recently said to me, as I was closing a somewhat emotional chapter in my life, that I wasn't meant to do what I had been doing. He said, instead, that I was born to help people grow. My soul trembled when I heard the words because I recognized that it was a purpose that I could no longer serve half-heartedly, but something that I must pursue with my whole self. So, here I am.
After enduring a spinal cord injury at just 10 months old and being paralyzed from the waist down, a life in a wheelchair has allowed for a variety of rich and interesting life experiences - none of which I would ever dream of swapping for that of a "normal" life. I found at a young age that my happiness, general outlook on the world and ability to connect with others were completely in my control. My life has proved to be filled with joy, love, laughter, challenges and success, thus far, and the best is yet to come.
My husband and I have been friends since childhood and we share an exciting and adventurous life together. My greatest honor is being the mother to our wise, passionate, beautiful 5-year-old daughter, Kamryn Marlee - who reminds us everyday to choose love, notice nature and to believe in magic. I was proud to represent my home state as Ms. Wheelchair California 2005 and was lucky enough to run a college radio station for a few years in my 20's. I've also been a national advocate for disability rights and a model for products that improve the quality of life for so many. I tried out different professions - and in each, poured my heart into my work and connected deeply with mentors that helped groom my wings. And each experience helped me better define my true purpose.
Throughout my life, I've done my best not to judge others and to honor the path they are on. I've had many friends share deep secrets and show me their authentic selves because I offered them a safe place. Friends and colleagues often come to me when they're worked up or stressed out - knowing that I have a way of lifting them up and showing them the light. Even in middle school and high school, I was certified as a peer counselor. Motivating, uplifting and helping people connect to love has always been who I am and I know this is the work I was born to do.
I'd like to applaud YOU for trusting your guidance to bring you here. The teachers and mentors that I have been fortunate enough to learn from, both in real life and virtually, have made dramatically positive impacts on my life - encouraging me and planting seeds of wisdom that have blossomed into the realization of so many dreams and goals. They have helped me shed harmful and limiting beliefs, boosted my self-confidence and inspired me to do more than I ever imagined I could. And what's even more is they gave me the permission to follow my MUST (read more from Elle Luna, here) and I hope to do the same for you.